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Brevard County Legal Aid staff and board celebrated pro bono at the 30th Annual Pro Bono Gala

admin - August 23, 2019 - 0 comments

160 Invited Guests Recognized The Remarkable Efforts Of Outstanding Volunteer Attorneys

Special Guest Speaker: Florida Supreme Court Justice Barbara Pariente

It is with great pleasure that Brevard County Legal Aid welcomed Florida Supreme Court Justice Barbara J. Pariente as our special guest speaker for this year’s Annual Pro Bono Awards and Recognition Gala.

Justice Pariente’s legal and judicial career has spanned over 40 years. She has been a Justice since 1997 and served as Chief Justice from 2004 through 2006. Her distinguished career has been characterized by her steadfast commitment to access to justice issues. She has worked to improve methods for handling cases involving families and children in the courts serving as the Chief Justice’s designee to the Florida Children and Youth Cabinet and the Department of Children and Families’ Child Protection Transformation Advisory Board.

Justice Pariente is also currently the Chair of the Supreme Court’s Steering Committee on Families and Children in the Courts, which works collaboratively to improve methods for handling cases involving children and families so that the interests and need of the child are paramount. Over the past decade, she has met with family court judges and staffs throughout Florida’s judicial circuits, promoted judicial education on the unified family court and advocated for improved case management, case coordination, and non-adversarial methods of resolving these disputes. From 2000-2002, she was a member of the Florida Bar’s Commission on the Legal Needs of Children.

Based on her longstanding commitment to children, Justice Pariente has served as a mentor to students through Take Stock in Children, a program for helping economically disadvantaged students earn a college scholarship. She is proud that one mentee, whom she began mentoring in ninth grade, has since graduated from college and law school.

Justice Pariente will present awards to local attorneys who have gone above and beyond in their pro bono contributions. Brigitta Hawkins will be recognized as “Pro Bono Attorney of the Year.” Britta performs pro bono service in several ways. She is well known to the staff at Brevard County Legal Aid where she staffs monthly advice clinics to assist individuals with social security issues but she also assists clients by providing individual representation to those in need. In fact, since 2009, Britta has personally provided 400 hours of pro bono service to 230 clients.

One of Britta’s proudest pro bono accomplishments is the creation of Space Coast Community Law School. In the Spring of 2010, with Brevard residents facing unprecedented hardships in light of ongoing and significant economic conditions, Britta devised an innovative plan to help address the vast unmet need for legal information in our community. With the help of a team of volunteers, whose ranks included attorneys, judges and paralegals, she formed Space Coast Community Law School.

A dozen judges and over 50 attorneys have provided hundreds of pro bono hours offering free legal seminars to the public on a variety of legal topics including: foreclosure, bankruptcy, estate planning and probate, social security disability, employment law, landlord-tenant, small claims, guardianship, post-conviction relief and consumer, domestic violence injunctions, constitutional law, and criminal law. Sessions on law library information, Clerk’s Office procedures, and legal aid services are also included.

Britta has been recognized by Brevard Legal Aid with “Outstanding Pro Bono Service Awards” in seven consecutive years since 2009. The Florida Association for Women Lawyers recognized her with the “Leader in Law Award” and the Brevard Bar Foundation presented her with the “President’s Certificate of Excellence for Exemplary Leadership and Service to the Community Award.” Most recently, on January 19th, 2017, Britta was presented with the Florida Bar President’s Pro Bono Services Award during a ceremony at the Florida Supreme Court.

Other award winners include “Outstanding Pro Bono Service Awards” to Richard Shuster, Deborah Smith, Michael Howard, John Daly, Amy Romaine, Judy Stevens, Diane Baccus Horsley, Vencil Moore, Thomas Yardley, Shawn Trautman, and Joe Caruso. “Distinguished Pro Bono Service Awards” will go to Julie Pierce, Steven Allender, Scott Krasny, Jeffrey Thompson, Lucinda Pruss, James Dressler, and Kyle Lieneck.

Attorney Kenneth F. Tworoger is the event’s Title Sponsor and two law firms, Shuster & Saben, LLC and Nance Cacciatore are Platinum Sponsors for the event. Gold Sponsors are: Allender & Allender, PA, Brevard County Bar Foundation, and Michael and Roma Kahn, Michael Kahn, PA.

Silver Sponsors are: Alpizar Law, Douglas R. Beam, P.A., Brevard County Bar Association, Cantwell & Goldman, Caruso, Swerbilow & Wald, PA, Derrick Connell, Esq., Bud & Kim Deffebach, Carmine Gigliotti, Attorney at Law, GrayRobinson, The Law Office of Michael Howard, Bruce Jacobus, Esq., Robert and Shelley Johnson, Rhonda Hinds & Associates, and The Honorable J. Preston and Betts Silvernail.

For more information please call BCLA at (321) 631-2500 ext. 514